Toshiba Satellite T135 notebook review – perfect balance of size, weight and power

In this review, we’ll introduce you to the Toshiba Satellite T135 notebook. Inside the model on review (the T135D-S1320) is an AMD NEO MV40 processor, 3GB of memory and a 250GB hard drive. Graphics are powered by a dedicated ATI Radeon chip on a 13.3″ widescreen LED backlit display.

In every possible way, this machine is the perfect option for someone not content with the size constraints of a netbook, but not interested in a large 15″ notebook. By removing the optical drive, Toshiba kept the weight of the machine at just under 3.9lbs.

On the outside, the machine is quite striking. Our review unit came in a kind of red carbon fiber pattern, not overly bright, definitely a departure from the boring designs on most other machines. Connectivity comes from a memory card slot, three USB ports, audio in/out, VGA and HDMI. Having built in access to both video output ports is a huge plus – too many machines force you to pick nowadays, often resulting in investments in special adapter cables.

They keyboard on the T135 is a kind of hybrid between a regular keyboard and a chiclet keyboard. Key spacing is excellent, but there is a little bit of “flex” towards the middle. Thankfully, it doesn’t impact typing efficiency. Despite the small size of the machine, the keys are well layed out, and everything is where you’d expect it to be.

The multi touch trackpad is nice and large – and is part of the outer case. The coating on the trackpad is a little rougher than the rest of the unit, making it both comfortable and accurate. At the bottom of the trackpad are the left and right buttons – which are easy to press and respond with a nice click.

Under the trackpad buttons are LED indicators for power, battery charging status, HDD activity, memory card activity and wireless status.

The memory card slot on the right fits SD, Memory Stick and xD card compatibility. One other neat connectivity feature comes from the left side USB port. By enabling a software feature, this USB port provides power even when the notebook is turned off. With this, you can charge your phone, iPod or other device, without having to find an outlet or invest in a battery pack.

Speaking of batteries, battery life on the T135 is quite good for a machine this size – its six cell battery sits flush with bottom, and is rated for six hours. In real life usage, I was usually able to keep it running for just over five and a half hours, without too many energy tweaks.

Other features inside the T135 include a webcam with facial recognition (for security), 802.11n WiFi and a hard drive impact sensor, which locks the drive when any sudden movements are detected.

Performance from the AMD NEO MV40 processor is another perfect balance – it won’t run down your battery, but it still packs enough power to do things like Flash video and HD playback. The integrated ATI Radeon video chip obviously helps with this.

On the bottom of the T135 is a memory card cover, which can be opened by the user -but since the machine already comes with 3GB, chances are you won’t ever need to expand it.

The Toshiba Satellite T135 for travel

As I mentioned earlier, the T135 is what I consider to be the “sweet spot” size for travel. There is still a time and place for smaller machines, but I often find that 10″ netbooks can be too much of a sacrifice on the road. A 13″ machine is just right for me – it offers a large high resolution screen, full size keyboard and good battery life, without the weight and heft of a 15″ machine.

The Toshiba T135 runs Windows 7 home premium 64 bit – a nice step up from the basic OS versions found on some machines. Out of the box, the Toshiba also comes with a good array of software – you obviously get the usual lineup of things like a Microsoft Office trial, Norton Internet Security and Windows Live Essentials. But the value added Toshiba applications are actually quite good – the Toshiba suite provides DVD playback software, a CD/DVD editing application, face recognition security, a variety of support apps and a very extensive energy management suite.

All in all, at just over $500, the Toshiba is one of the best machines I have tested in this price/size range. The Toshiba T135 line is available from and Toshiba retailers. The specific model tested in this review (T135-S1320) is available at Walmart retail stores.